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  • Posted December 22nd, 2015

    3 shopping days to Christmas – a plea not to buy any more tat

    3 shopping days to Christmas – a plea not to buy any more tat

    Last minute Christmas shopping? Well, this is our last-minute plea for you not to do it. I was recently invited to a party with a ‘secret Santa’ that invited people to buy presents for less than £5. It’s a nice thought, but it inevitably resulted in a barrage of plastic trinkets that won’t last until next Christmas.

    The buying of tat isn’t just unnecessary and almost definitely unwanted consumption, but also it’s usually made of plastic and transported half-way round the world, and therefore environmentally-damaging; it’s usually made in sweatshops, and therefore contributing to modern-day slavery; and it’s all to boost the money economy and make the wrong people rich.

    I don’t want to sound like Scrooge – it’s nice to get together with friends and family and give presents – they just don’t have to be tat. Below are some alternative ideas – although it might be a bit late to get the skills for some of them, if you don’t already have them. Ah well, there’s always next Christmas.

    • write them a poem
    • bake them a cake or a loaf of bread or some biscuits
    • make them a jar of jam
    • give them a book that you’ve read and loved
    • sing them a song
    • knit them a pair of socks or a scarf
    • catch them a fish
    • carve them a spoon
    • make them some wine
    • make them a pot, basket or a Christmas wreath
    • draw them a picture
    • give them a little woodwork (or metalwork) project
    • make them a rag rug
    • collect some ivy, holly or mistletoe for them
    • roast them some chestnuts
    • give them a massage
    • make them some hand-made paper
    • give them a voucher for some DIY or gardening
    • give them some fruit or veg seeds you’ve saved
    • brew them some beer
    • make them some candles
    • grow them some mushrooms
    • make them some moisturiser or soap
    • make them a piece of jewellery or even furniture

    Lots more ideas here – but really, anything but plastic, slave-produced tat made on the other side of the world.

    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


    • 1nane December 22nd, 2015

      The Twelve Illusions of Christmas

      1. Christmas is the season of Peace and Goodwill

      Peace and Goodwill are NEVER seasonal. They have to be in your Heart every minute of every day – otherwise, you are part of a big illusion.

      2. “Aw, bit wir daein’ it fur the bairns”

      Do you really believe that our severely messed-up world can be changed by teaching our children the same old values? Then please consider the possibility that you are part of a big illusion

      3. We must buy each other gifts at Christmas time

      Do you really need society’s permission to offer a gift to someone. Surely you can do this anytime. Yes, buy someone a gift, or be inspired to make one, whenever you feel like it, and invariably, it will be appreciated because it comes from your Heart. Do you need society’s permission to have a special meal together? Why not just go ahead and do it, for the sheer joy of it.

      4. Christmas creates jobs

      Is it OK for fellow human beings in the third world to work as slaves, so that the folks in the western world can give each other garbage which nobody needs? Surely this is a big illusion. (this is true all year long, not just the season of goodwill.) OK, OK, so a few students get to deliver the Christmas post.

      5. It’s OK for multi-national corporations to make even more profit than they usually would – because it’s Christmas time

      Do you really believe this? Then you are part of a big illusion.

      6. It’s OK for multi-national corporations to pillage the Earth, squander our natural resources, to make even more profit than they usually would – because it’s Christmas.

      Do you realise that, by purchasing all these worthless goods, you are giving your permission for this sheer irresponsibility,? If not, then you are part of a big illusion.

      7. It’s really cool to decorate your home with tinsel

      Why would anyone want to “decorate” their home – their very own personal space – with tinsel? Could it be something to do with a big illusion? In that case, tinsel is the perfect material – shallow, ugly, meaningless trash. How appropriate.

      8. It’s OK to spend spend spend, even to go into debt, because it’s Christmas.

      Can you financially afford all this bloody nonsense? Do you really want to pay money to be part of this illusion?

      9. Christmas can be a stressful time, but it’s worth it.

      Do you really need the stress that many folks experience at this time of year? It’s hardly a holiday. IS IT? It’s more like an illusion.

      10. Well, at least we do get a couple of days holiday

      Do you actually believe that your employer has granted you a holiday, just so you can celebrate Christmas? Yes, of course it’s an illusion – do you really need to be told this?

      11. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ

      Do you believe that Christmas has anything to do with the birth of Jesus Christ (whose teachings you may, or may not, aspire to? ) Yes? Then you are part of an illusion, as it’s really about Jesus Cash. It’s about keeping you consuming, and under the illusion that this is all wonderful.

      12. Those who refuse to celebrate Christmas are a bit strange

      Do you think that someone, who refuses to “celebrate” Christmas is a total bloody weirdo? Yes? You’ve got it – it’s just another of the illusions you are willing to tolerate. Some people like to make up their own minds. They don’t like to be controlled.

      So … please, at least consider the above points. Maybe they have, in the past, just got lost in the Christmas Rush, and you haven’t found the time to think about them before. With all this brainwashing going on, you can hardly be blamed.

      If, after some pondering, you still think Christmas is really cool, then fair enough. At least the illusions have been brought to your attention. It would be a shame if you didn’t, at least, know about the possibility that you might – just might – be unknowingly experiencing severe manipulation.

      Oh … and spare a Christmas thought for the poor weirdos. Let them live their lives the way they believe is right, even if you don’t agree.

      Let them be.


    • 2johnhson December 22nd, 2015

      I rather like Christmas – it’s an odd one really. Obviously the Christians decided to impose their myth onto the pagan midwinter celebrations of the solstice with it’s message of re-birth, but that rebirth, the days getting longer remains. It’s become a very inclusive festival, I’ve seen Muslims and Jews, Sikhs and Hindus with Christmas trees and decorations. It’s grown beyond the Christians.

      Yes, it’s a commercial spendfest – winterval – and there will be more food wasted than any other time of the year. Nothing is perfect.

      On the other hand – we hit hard times like a brick wall and stopped buying presents except for children. Instead we gave jars of jam and chutney, home grown and pickled onions and home made wine. Some 4 years later the finances had improved so we bought everyone gifts – they were well thought out, quite expensive yet the universal reaction was disappointment that we hadn’t made any jams or chutneys to give. So, back to the home made stuff and donate the cash to charity.

      Have a good one whatever you believe ?

    • 3mary smale December 3rd, 2023

      dont forget home grown food they can use themselves

    • 4Sue December 3rd, 2023

      There are hundreds of charity and recycling shops that sell really useful, interesting and excellent items for under £5. We have a local one called Tri Marrant I guess in English it would be 'Fun Recycling' as tri in this sense means waste reduction, as much of the stuff in the shop was initially heading for the town dump and thus landfill but instead can be left at a collection point. Here are some of the things we have purchased for under £5:

      Cast Iron pans/skillets

      Knitting wool - yes 100% wool

      Knitting Needles, crochet hooks, embroidery yarn

      Cups, Mugs, Glasses



      Old biscuit tins

      Hat boxes


      Tea Towels

      Framed Prints and Watercolours


      DVDs, CDs, LPs


      Linen Handkerchiefs

      Pillow Cases

      Barbecue tools

      Storage Jars

      Coffee Pot

      Outside Light

      Wall clock

      Alarm Clock

      Champagne Bucket

      Butter Dish


      Flower vases

      This shop also has frequent sales so often you can get furniture for either under £5 or just give what you can.

      All the money goes to help local people in need get back on their feet and provides them with viable jobs.

      I think your ideas are great and we make many presents and all our own cards but don't rule out there being things other than 'tat' for under £5. We're in France but I've just been over to the UK and there are still great bargains in second-hand goods. Happy Hunting!

    • 5John Gilbert December 4th, 2023

      “The best things in life aren’t things”. Bumper sticker attributed by Judith Levine in “Not buying it”

    • 6Rebecca Stacey December 6th, 2023

      Fab suggestions here - thanks all!

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